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CHEST PAIN

  • One of the most common reasons for emergency room visits.
  • Varies depending on the person. It also varies in:
    • Quality
    • Intensity
    • Duration
    • Location
  • It may feel like a sharp, stabbing pain or a dull ache. It may be a sign of a serious heart-related problem, but it may also occur due to one of many common causes that are not life-threatening.
  • Heart-related causes:
    • Heart attack – blockage of blood flow to the heart.
    • Angina – pain due to blockages in the blood vessels leading to the heart.
    • Pericarditis – inflammation of the sac around the heart.
    • Myocarditis – inflammation of the heart muscle.
    • Cardiomyopathy – disease of the heart muscle.
    • Aortic dissection – a rare condition involving a tear of the aorta, the large vessel that comes off of the heart.
  • Gastrointestinal causes:
    • Acid reflux, or heartburn
    • Swallowing problems related to disorders of the esophagus
    • Gallstones
    • Inflammation of the gallbladder or pancreas
  • Lung-related causes:
    • Pneumonia
    • Viral bronchitis
    • Pneumothorax
    • A blood clot, or pulmonary embolus
    • Bronchospasm
  • Muscle- or bone-related causes:
    • Bruised or broken ribs
    • Sore muscles from exertion or chronic pain syndromes
    • Compression fractures causing pressure on a nerve
  • Other symptoms:
    • Heart-related symptoms
      • Chest pressure or tightness
      • Back, jaw, or arm pain
      • Fatigue
      • Lightheadedness
      • Dizziness
      • Shortness of breath
      • Abdominal pain
      • Nausea
      • Pain during exertion
    • Non-heart related symptoms:
      • A sour or acidic taste in your mouth
      • Pain that only occurs after you swallow or eat
      • Difficulty swallowing
      • Pain that’s better or worse depending on your body position
      • Pain that’s worse when you breathe deeply or cough
      • Pain accompanied by a rash
      • Fever
      • Aches
      • Chills
      • A runny nose
      • Cough
      • Feelings of panic or anxiety
      • Hyperventilating
      • Back pain that radiates to the front of your chest

DIAGNOSIS

  • Physician may do/request:
    • History & Physical Exam
  • Other additional tests such as:
    • An electrocardiogram – records the heart’s electrical activity
    • Blood tests – measure enzyme levels
    • Chest X-ray
    • Echocardiogram
    • MRI
    • Stress tests
    • Angiogram

 

RECOMMENDED MEDICATIONS

  • Treatments for heart-related causes of chest pain include:
    • Medications, including nitroglycerin and other medications that open partially closed arteries, clot-busting drugs, or blood thinners.
    • Cardiac catheterization, which involves using balloons or stents to open blocked arteries.
    • Surgical repair of the arteries, which is also known as coronary artery bypass grafting or bypass surgery.
  • Treatments for other causes of chest pain include:
    • Lung re-inflation for a collapsed lung, which your doctor will perform by inserting a chest tube or related device.
    • Antacids or certain procedures for acid reflux and heartburn.
    • Anti-anxiety medications for chest pain related to panic attacks.

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